MEMPHIS, Tenn. – University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin was named the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, senior forward Justin Jackson earned Defensive Player of the Year and senior guard Sean Kilpatrick received the Sportsmanship Award Wednesday at the league’s awards luncheon at Gibson Guitar Factory.
The awards were voted upon by the conference’s 10 coaches.
Despite being picked fourth in preseason conference polls and receiving only one vote in the preseason Associated Press poll, Cronin has guided Cincinnati (26-5, 15-3 American) to a share of the conference regular-season championship – the school’s first league title since 2004 – and a No. 13 national ranking.
Cincinnati’s 26 win in the regular season are the most since 2001-2002 while its 15 league victories are the second most in school history behind only the 1999-2000 squad that went 16-0 in Conference USA.
The Bearcats have been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll each of the last nine weeks and are 4-1 against Top 25 teams this season.
It marks the second conference coach of the year award for Cronin, who claimed the same recognition from the Ohio Valley Conference in his third season as head coach at Murray State in 2005-06. That season he guided the Racers to a 24-6 record while winning the league’s regular-season and tournament crowns and appearing in the NCAA tournament.
Jackson finished the regular season ranked first in the American in blocks, averaging 2.9.
He also ranked third in offensive rebounds (3.2), fifth in field-goal shooting (54.8 percent), fifth in rebounds (7.1) and tied for fifth in steals (1.7).
His 89 blocks this season rank 21st in the nation and are the fifth-highest single-season total in school history. He recorded at least one block in 16 of 18 league games and 28 of 31 contests this season. He also swiped at least one steal in 16 of 18 league games and in all but seven games during the regular season.
Kilpatrick had a stellar 2013-14 regular-season on the court, leading the league in scoring (20.9 points) and three-pointers made (2.8 per game) and was third in free-throw shooting (84.4 percent). He has led the Bearcats in scoring in each of the last 17 games and in 28 contests this year. He has scored at least 20 points in 18 games and ranks alongside basketball legend Oscar Robertson as the only two players in program history to score at least 2,000 career points.
But Kilpatrick was recognized by the league on Wednesday for the intangibles he brings to the game and for the outstanding representative he has become for the University of Cincinnati and the league. Conference coaches noticed his ability to demonstrate the ideal of sportsmanship, including fairness, civility, unselfishness, respect, ethical behavior and integrity.
Kilpatrick was named a unanimous first team all-conference selection on Tuesday while Jackson was selected second team all-conference.